So lately, this forum has been all about food and groceries. I've gotten a lot of feedback about the small grocery budget we live within ($350/mo), and I've tried to explain that we do a lot of scratch cooking. Now, I SAH, but I'm afraid that I've given people the impression that all we do is cook. So for the past couple of days, I've been keeping track of how long it takes me to make dinner.
Two days in a row, it's been about 35 minutes for scratch meals. That seems like a reasonable amount of time to me, so I thought I'd share here.
On our last baking day, we made six 12oz balls of pie crust. One of these I did not freeze. Yesterday morning, DD and I ate cereal for breakfast, and I spent about 15-20 minutes making yogurt and rolling out a pie crust. Later, when it was time to put the yogurt in jars, I stuck the crust in the oven to par bake. This took another 5 minutes or so. Taking the crust out when the time dings took less than a minute.
At dinner time, I broke six eggs and shredded about a cup and half of cheddar cheese. I chopped then sauteed onions and mushrooms in balsamic vinegar, Bragg's Liquid Aminos, butter and EVO. I mixed the veggies in with the eggs, about 2/3 of the cheese, and about 1/2 cup of heavy cream, and added pepper, marjoram, and nutmeg. I poured this in the pie shell and added the rest of the cheese. This took 20 minutes. I did the whole day's worth of dishes-we don't have a dishwasher, sadly- while the quiche baked (45 mins, 350), and then after dinner had only to wash silverware, three plates and the pie tin. So even though I spent around an hour in the kitchen, I would say that only about 35 minutes of it was directly dinner related.
Then, tonight, we had falafel sandwiches. Had I planned ahead properly, I would have drained yogurt last night, but I forgot. I just used regular yogurt, and that worked fine, but Greek style would have been better.
At lunch time, I mixed up tortilla mix (we had tortilla stuff but no pitas done ahead) and falafel mix, and let them sit covered in the fridge. This took 5-7 minutes. When we got home from our walk (4:58), I rolled out 8 tortillas, and balled up 8 falafel. I cooked the tortillas two at a time on our big skillet, and fried the falafel in hot oil in our cast iron. Then I grated half a cucumber and half a small onion, drained their juice off, added a little apple cider vinegar, pepper, dill, and about 1/4 cup of yogurt to make taziki. I sliced the rest of the cuke, sliced tomatoes, washed and tore some spinach, and opened and drained a can of black olives. We were sitting down to eat at 5:33. I still need to the dishes, but there aren't many. That will probably only take me 10 minutes, since everything is put away/wiped down.
I just wanted to indicate that we don't eat especially fancy meals most of the time, but we don't subsist on beans and rice, either. And if you plan and do a little work ahead, it really doesn't take too long.
I also wanted to share with you our cost. Now, we get WIC, so obviously there will be a higher cost for some people, but I have included that here.
10 oz flour tortilla mix @ $2.74 per four # bag= $0.40
8 oz. falafel mix @ $1.75 per #= $0.88
$3.50 for a bag of spinach, of which we used little= ~$0.75
$1 for a can of olives= $1
$1 for an organic cucumber= $1
$1 for two organic tomatoes= $1
$7 for organic flour & hormone free butter to make 6 pie crusts= $1.16 per crust
$0.25 for 1 pt. hormone free cream, 1/4 cup= $0.06
(We found a bunch of cream marked down to $0.25 a pint because we bought it on its sell-by date. We bought it all and froze it.)
$0.40 per qt homemade yogurt, 1/4 cup= $0.03
(If you had to buy the hormone free milk, your cost would soar to $1.75 per qt of yogurt, or $0.11 per quarter cup.)
$2.50 for high quality local eggs, 6= $0 b/c of WIC, or $1.25 for everyone else
$5 per pound hormone free cheese, less than 1/2 #= $0 b/c of WIC, or about $2 for everyone else
Plus maybe a $1 worth of seasonings and vinegar. So our cost for these two meals, both of which fed the three of us with enough leftovers for DD and I to eat lunch the next day, was $7.28, or $0.72 per serving.
If we didn't get WIC, our cost would go up to $10.61 for these meals, or $1.61 per serving.
(These calculations do not include the tiny cost of water or the energy costs of cooking.)
Even if we had to buy our eggs and dairy, we still would be eating quite well pretty inexpensively.
I hope this helps somebody.
Trying to turn hearts and minds toward universal healthcare, one post at a time.